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Ian Blackford: UK blocking refugees with endless paperwork

Ian Blackford clashed with Boris Johnson.
Ian Blackford clashed with Boris Johnson.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford clashed with Boris Johnson during Prime Minister’s Questions as he branded the Tory government’s Ukraine refugee policy “incompetent”.

Mr Blackford claimed it was “disgraceful” that Britain had taken in less than 1,000 asylum seekers fleeing the war after Russia’s invasion two weeks ago.

He accused the Conservatives of continuing to foster a “hostile environment” towards immigrants and again urged them to waive visa requirements for refugees.

But Boris Johnson defended his party’s record and said the government had done plenty to assist Ukraine while the conflict rages on.

The prime minister said he expects refugee numbers to “rise sharply” in the coming weeks and added that they could reach more than 100,000 eventually.

Mr Blackford pointed out that Poland has already accepted over 1 million Ukrainians fleeing the war, while Ireland has taken more than Britain despite being much smaller in population.

‘These numbers don’t lie’

He said: “I’ve generally tried to work constructively with the UK Government and I will continue to seek to do this.

“However, nobody should support this government when it comes to the response to the refugee crisis. 760 visa approvals in two weeks is disgraceful.

“These numbers don’t lie. They tell a devastating truth.”

Mr Johnson replied: “This government has a proud record. We’ve done more to resettle vulnerable people than any other European country since 2015.”

His SNP rival then said: “These are people fleeing war crimes, torn apart from their families as their homes are shelled. The home secretary is blocking them with endless paperwork.

‘Hostile environment’

“This isn’t just incompetence, this is ideology in the face of the biggest refugee crisis in Europe since the second world war, the UKG won’t set aside the hostile environment.”

Westminster home secretary Priti Patel announced last week that the government would launch a family resettlement scheme allowing Ukrainians with family to seek refugee in Britain.

Home Secretary Priti Patel.

A sponsorship programme will also mean asylum seekers with no connections to the UK can stay here.

The home secretary said the Tories would not scrap visa requirements entirely due to security fears.

SNP Holyrood minister Angus Robertson said the Westminster response to the displacement crisis was “woefully inadequate”.

Aberdeen family’s heartache at Ukraine visa delays raised in House of Commons

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